Cort KX500 Etched Guitar Review

by | Jan 6, 2021 | Best Electric Guitars

Cort has been making well-made, reasonably priced instruments for decades. With their new KX500 Etched guitar, they put all the cards on the table, and it’s a modern guitarist’s dream.

The flat/satin black finish of the Cort KX500 is quite striking, with the grain pattern of the burled ash top etched in. The back is a nice red mahogany with a wine-red satin finish stain that again allows the player to feel the natural grain patterns and textures. Ash is an excellent tone wood and pairing with mahogany is a great natural EQ formula — plenty of warmth, plus a sharp top-end attack.

The 24-fret neck is at a standard 25.5” scale, with a fairly fat, but not jumbo fretwire, and the Macassar ebony fingerboard has a nice and flat 15.75” radius. Bespoke mini teardrop fret markers make this look hyper slick. Speaking of slick, the 5-piece neck has a combo of maple and purple heart, giving it a super stable and rigid construction, along with a light satin finish. The headstock also has the same textured approach as the body, with a 3 + 3 configuration of locking tuners. Bridge wise, the stop tail, string-through design is a favorite of ours due to its stability, and easy to re-string on the fly approach.

The electronics are top notch, with Fishman’s Fluence pickups. The volume control is a push/pull affair, allowing the player to switch voicings, while the tone control’s push/pull puts the pickups in a coil split mode. They are active electronics, but an easy access battery compartment is on the back of the guitar.

We haven’t had a lot of previous experience with Fishman’s Fluence offerings, but these really sounded amazing. Plenty of aggression, but still maintained clarity. Dial the volume back, even with super saturated amp settings, and everything cleaned up nicely, not classic or vintage, but a cleaner and warmer response that sits in the spectrum. They certainly made us re-think what active pickups can do, as some players have historically found them sterile. Let’s be clear, this is no vintage affair, but the dynamics and attack response are a lot more natural overall.

Simply put, this is a shred machine. The hyper smooth and thin neck meets the body at a minimal neck joint, meaning no big adjustment to maneuver technique after the 14th fret. The action on this is low for super easy string skips as well. There’s really nothing to get in the way, playability wise on this.

Dialing in the gain with our Revv G4 Pedal (this is excellent for high gain tones), this was hyper easy to get into rapid fire low string riffs and beefy aggressive rhythms. Leads have a real tight response and snap overall, while maintaining balance, and not getting brittle or harsh. Our test model came with D’Addario 10’s, but players who like to tune lower, this feels like this could easily deliver some low-end audio assault with a heavier gauge.

Modern player’s, take notice — this is a prog/aggro/heavy metal beast that’s refined. Cort may not have the attention of other well-known brands, but that’s the only downside. The upside is, this isn’t your parents metal, it’s yours…


Unique finish, super nice neck, excellent electronics


May get overlooked.